Sponsorships are a great way to raise funds for revenue generating events, however, the process of seeking and securing sponsorships can be time consuming and incredibly challenging. Not only do you need to sharpen your skills in sales, but you also need to confidently pitch your event with all the necessary details.
Whether your event is taking place virtually or in-person, there are numerous possibilities for brand exposure, audience interaction, activations and so much more. So, what can you do to ensure success with event sponsorships?
Follow these helpful tips to stay on the right track.
- START EARLY
If there is one piece of advice you take away from this article – let it be this!
Securing sponsors takes time. You will need to find the appropriate department as well as the name and email address of the individual to approach, and in some cases, you may be required to submit a request form online (competing with hundreds of others, also seeking event sponsorship!). To ensure your request is seen and considered, you must allow enough time to process your request internally. Be prepared for questions, various levels of approval, back and forth negotiations and legal teams getting involved. The entire process could take several months before you see any sponsorship dollars come through. If you have an internal connection, ask them to confirm the timeline for budget approvals and be sure to send your request ahead of this deadline. Never let your event sponsorships be an afterthought; it is obvious and late requests do not leave a good impression!
- BE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR APPROACH
As you start to compile a prospect list, take the time to research each organization. Read their corporate press releases, follow their company blogs, and be aware of their business moves. This knowledge will be particularly helpful as you craft your pitch and start to converse with them directly. Furthermore, it will provide great insight into their business and will help ensure all sponsors you reach out to, are in fact suitable for your event.
- KNOW YOUR BUDGETS & REVENUE TARGETS
It is imperative that you understand the numbers before you begin speaking with potential sponsors. Having a good understanding of all the event costs and revenue targets means you are well equipped for negotiations which will lead to financial success. Sponsors may question your pricing levels, therefore it is helpful to know your boundaries during these negotiations. This process will also help establish the type of sponsorships that need to be secured. While monetary sponsorships will bring in funds, there may also be a need for in-kind sponsorships to help offset some event costs.
- UNDERSTAND YOUR TAREGT AUDIENCE (AND THEIRS!)
Knowing your event demographic is key when it comes to understanding why an organization should sponsor your event. Look for the common thread that ties your event audience and sponsors together. If you can demonstrate that your event will host the same demographic as the target audience for your sponsors, you are already on the right track for a win. The most valuable sponsorship comes from brand alignment and the direct connection to attendees with opportunities for engagement. This is where the value in sponsoring your event lies. Get creative and offer unique opportunities for sponsors to interact with your audience. Taking the time to understand the nature of their business and target audience, will help them see the benefits of a partnership, naturally.
- BE OPEN TO CUSTOMIZED PACKAGES
The mission, vision, and objectives of each organization you approach is different, and creating tailored packages that are specific to each, will go a long way. In most cases, event teams will create a standard sponsorship package that consists of various price levels and benefits, however it is not always a one-size fits all solution. Be open to conversations that go beyond the levels in your package and explore the possibilities that interest your sponsors. If they have a specific objective in mind, help them achieve it. Just be sure to check the feasibility of the solutions you propose (before making suggestions) and deliver as agreed.
- ALWAYS DELIVER AS PROMISED
Never lose sight of the benefits that have been promised and negotiated with your sponsors. It is easy to lose track of these details as you get busy with event planning. Consider creating a process to help manage the delivery of all sponsor benefits, as contracted. This level of detailed planning will ensure sponsors are happy and enjoying the benefits they have purchased.
Finally, remember to take photos of your audience interacting with sponsor activations, signage and displays so that you can share them post-event with a ‘Thank You’ message. This will demonstrate the success of the event sponsorship and hopefully it will be the start of a new long-term partnership.
Ruby Sohi is founder and lead event planner at Royal Blue Events Management. She has more than 15 years experience in event production and marketing. She was nominated as ‘Event Professional of the Year’ in 2020 by the Canadian Special Event Awards and is actively involved in the community. She has served as a board member for American Marketing Association (Toronto) as VP of programming and events and International Live Event Association (Toronto) as VP of marketing & communications and is currently serving as VP education for CanSPEP. Ruby has delivered events across Canada and is based in Toronto, Ontario.